11 NOVEMBER 1966, Page 15

The State Muddle in Films

SIR,—Fantasy-making is the prerogative of the film producer but when the Boulting brothers (Letters, November 4) see themselves—and other producers— as reincarnated Francis Drakes taking on the whole might of the armada of American films I just cannot stop laughing. I may have the 'mind of an accoun- tant,' devoid of imagination' and 'soaked in de- featism,' but I do retain a sense of humour.

I stand corrected in a slip due to a hasty cutting- down of a lengthy article. The British Film Fund or 'Eady' levy is, of course, levied on the gross box- office takings of all films exhibited in all cinemas but, as I have said in the later article, this levy breaks one of the time-honoured canons of public finance— that a source of national revenue must not be pre- empted for the benefit of a special class (in this case the producers of eligible British films) to the detri- ment of the general body of taxpayers. What would the Boultings say if the revenues from taxing the cars they must own were siphoned off for a subsidy to the car manufacturers?

Thanks to a recurrence of ill-conceived legislation from the Board of Trade imposing a badly-thought- out scheme of state aid and protection for the British film industry—for which, I fear, the late Sir Wilfred Eady of the Treasury was mainly responsible—the film producers who use British studios (foreign pro- ducers as well as British) have been getting away with financial murder, the victims being the honest, hard-pressed British taxpayers. As the very clever Boulting brothers have made perhaps the biggest killing of the lot—out of state subsidy via British Lion—I am not disposed to take their rude reactions to sober financial criticism very seriously.


The Athenaeum Club. London SW!